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Check out This Video Introducing Japan’s Traditional Craft Uetsu Shinafu!

This video, “「手技TEWAZA「羽越しな布」Uetsu Shinafu Weaving」”, is an introduction of uetsu shinafu by Traditional Crafts Aoyama Square.

Uetsu shinafu fabric is the oldest fabric in Japan woven using tree bark fibers.
They were first created during the Jomon period (14,000 BC to 400 BC), and are counted as one of Japan’s Three Ancient Woven Fabrics.

Now, uetsu shinafu is produced in Tsuruoka Town in Yamagata Prefecture, the Sekigawa District of Uzen, as well as Murakami Town in Niigata Prefecture. In 2005, these uetsu shinafu products were designated Traditional Crafts by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Information.
In this video, the production process of uetsu shinafu is introduced in detail.
Do enjoy this video showing a tradition of Japan from days past.

What Is Uetsu Shinafu? Introducing the Production Process and Methods Used to Make Them

The raw material of uetsu shinafu is bark derived from the Japanese Linden Tree, as shown from 0:33 in the video, with other sources being the bark of the, tilia maximowicziana, as well as the tilia noziricola.

Firstly, the bark is peeled and dried, then boiled in water containing wood ash.
Next, as shown in the video, the fibers are scrubbed in a river then dried once more.
Following that, the fibers are shredded by hand into thin threads in a process called shinasaki. These threads are then joined to form one long thread in a process called shinaumi. Then, the threads are twisted into a spool and called shinayori .
The skill of the craftsman is critical in this entire process, as it is all done by hand.

Lastly, the threads are placed on a platform known as the uttate, and the threads are then reeled (3:26). Finally, the threads are woven into a piece of fabric.

Where Can I Purchase Uetsu Shinafu Products?

From 4:19 in the video, works of art created using uetsu shinafu fabric are introduced.
Different kinds of bags, decorative items such as tapestries, name card holders, wallets, obi belts, hats, fabric dividers – there is a huge variety of products.

Besides tourist areas in Yamagata Prefecture, uetsu shinafu products can also be purchased through mail order.
As for those who would like to try their hand at uetsu shinafu, the Uetsu Shinafu Promotion Council, the Shinaori Center, or Sekigawa Shinaori Village are all places you can visit.

Summary of Uetsu Shinafu

Uetsu shinafu: exquisite works of art with a pleasant texture.
Isn’t it unbelievable that its origins date back to the Jomon period?

As shown in the video, uetsu shinafu fabric is created through a complicated process, with the craftsmen ensuring that every single step is done to the best of their ability. Thus, uetsu shinafu products can be used for a long time.
If this video has you interested in uetsu shinafu, do take the opportunity to purchase an uetsu shinafu product or try making one yourself!.

【Official Website】Uetsu Shinafu Promotion Council Yamagata Prefecture-Tsuruoka City・Niigata Prefecture-Murakami City, Ancient Fabrics Village

Written By
Sep. 15, 2020
坂崎 なお(Nao Sakazaki)
Interested in Japanese culture and traditions! I'll be introducing lovely scenery to you!
Uetsu Shinafu: A Traditional Craft of Yamagata Prefecture with Which You Can Feel the Beauty of Ancient Japanese Culture. Don’t Overlook These Exquisite Woven Works of Art That Remind Us of Days Past
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